Seattle burlesque is beginning to mutate beyond its conventional routine—enter, strip, applause, exit, rinse, repeat. Last fall, Central Cinema launched interactive, big-screen stripping to old exploitation films like Reform School Girls and Frankenhooker with Seattle's first Burlesque-Along series. Regular Burlesque-Along performer Madisun Avenue also coproduces nontraditional shows including Metalesque! The monthly revue pairs live metal with cabaret and burlesque. Dancing might begin with traditional striptease to a Black Sabbath cover, grind through a little go-go dancing, and end with circus acts. "I don't necessarily think burlesque has to mean taking your clothes off," Madisun explains. "It's about the tease—so a bendy, scantily-clad contortionist doesn't have to actually remove anything to evoke the same reaction that someone else twirling tassels might."
Madisun and partner David Stern have a second spring project: Frank's Wild Years, an homage to the Tom Waits album, which was originally written as a musical play. If there is a stocking removal, it will be because it suits the song—in the kingdom of Tom Waits, there is ample opportunity.
Sinner Saint Burlesque, recently returned from London, is getting a directional nip/tuck from Diva le Déviant (aka Sasha Summer Cousineau, from the Beebo Brinker Pulp Cabarets). Cousineau and Sinner Saint will write scripted shows with actual plots, beginning with a mockumentary titled Behind the Pasties. The idea is to move away from the increasingly redundant variety format into a narrative fusion of burlesque and cabaret. Let the innovation begin—getting naked is always more fun with someone who likes to try new things.
Metalesque!, Columbia City Theater, March 31 and April 20. A Burlesque Tribute to Tom Waits's Frank's Wild Years, Columbia City Theater, April 19 and 26. Behind the Pasties: A Burlesque Mock-umentary, Noc Noc, March 22–May 10.